Storytelling Fisheries Decline

We are very excited to share the first video from an ongoing series that is communicating fisheries decline through storytelling. As the population and income demands in Fiji have increased, fish catches have declined across Fiji. This is vividly illustrated by the distances people have to travel to catch fish today, having to spend more and more on petrol and fish for longer and longer. It's also evident in declining catches. Some fish have disappeared from catches all together; the rest are getting smaller and smaller.

In a country that relies heavily on fish for food and income, you would think these trends would be cause for alarm. But that's just not the case. The changes are taking places over years, and people are just trying each day to get by. Experts visits communities and show the alarming fisheries data. But change does not follow. In Fiji, like many places, still people say:

 A page from a Set Size campaign booklet with common responses from Fiji communities when you raise the issue of overfishing and the need for management.

A page from a Set Size campaign booklet with common responses from Fiji communities when you raise the issue of overfishing and the need for management.

  • "We can never run out of fish, the ocean is big."
  • "God gave us these fish, we should eat it."
  • "How do you know they're less. Do you go underneath the water & count the fish?" 
  • "What are we supposed to live on? Do you have alternatives?"

We decided it was critical to shift the focus from the abstract to personal stories of loss. It's easy to dismiss data, and even easier to dismiss an outsider. But harder to dismiss stories from local fishermen from all over Fiji explaining what has disappeared. This video with Fisherman Ratu Rokotola Katonivualiku, Naduri, Macuata, shares the things he caught long ago, how the gear got better, and how far he travels today. Our partners, who show the videos in communities, said Rokotola's videos and the others, are helping focus communities on the issues and usher in constructive dialogues on changes. The project is still in its early stages, but we wanted to share it as an example of using storytelling to breakthrough. 

To follow the campaign, visit www.facebook.com/setsize.